McAuliffe continues torrid fundraising pace in closing weeks of Va. governor’s race

Terry McAuliffe has continued his breakneck fundraising pace in the race for Virginia governor, trouncing foe Ken Cuccinelli II on the financial front as the Republican slips further behind in the contest.

McAuliffe (D) is ahead of Cuccinelli (R) by 12 points among likely voters in a new Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll, and his lead has been fueled in part by a massive advantage in cash — and on the airwaves. McAuliffe’s latest haul was his best yet: From Oct. 1 through Oct. 23, he raised $8.1 million, compared with $2.9 million for Cuccinelli, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

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For the race overall, McAuliffe’s total haul is approaching $35 million — smashing the record for a Virginia governor campaign, which Robert F. McDonnell (R) set in his victorious 2009 run with $24 million. Cuccinelli has raised just under $18 million.

More than half of what McAuliffe raised in the latest period came in the form of in-kind donations — of advertising, grass-roots help and political services — giving him an extra boost beyond the ads he’s paid for himself. McAuliffe’s single-biggest cash donor for the period was Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, who gave $500,000.

Cuccinelli got the largest portion of his money — $970,000 — from the Republican Governors Association.

Down-ballot, state Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) is outpacing his opponent for lieutenant governor, Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson. Northam raised $612,000 in Oct. 1-23, while Jackson took in $233,000.

In the attorney general contest — which the poll suggests is the closest of the three — state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) brought in a whopping $2.6 million for the three-week period, with close to $1.8 million of the total coming from the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Obenshain’s foe, state Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun), raised $664,000 over the three-week period. Fundraising updates provided by VPAP since Oct. 23 suggest that Herring’s allies are trying to balance the scales. On Monday, the Democratic Attorneys General Association gave Herring $674,000.

Many Republicans in the state now view Obenshain as a firewall — their best chance of preventing a Democratic sweep on Election Day.